Birks and Telefilm Canada have announced the honourees for the annual Birks Diamond Tribute to the Year’s Women in Film. This year’s list includes director Micheline Lanctôt; actors Wendy Crewson and Jean Yoon; screenwriter Marie Clements; and emerging directors Jasmin Mozaffari and Sophie Dupuis.
Set to be honoured at a Sept. 4 luncheon at Toronto’s Four Seasons, each honouree in the directing, acting, screenwriting and emerging talent categories receives an honourarium from Birks to support their next project.
Micheline Lanctôt entered the world of film animation in 1967, and after one year at the National Film Board, joined Potterton Productions where she worked as an assistant, and then an animator for five years. Her first acting role was in Gilles Carle’s La Vraie Nature de Bernadette, earning her a place in history as the first Canadian actress to be in official competition at the Cannes Film Festival in 1972. She went on to act alongside Richard Dreyfuss in The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz. In 1979, she wrote and directed her first feature film, L’Homme à tout faire, selected at the prestigious Director’s Fortnight in Cannes. Her second feature, Sonatine, won the Silver Lion at the Venice Mostra in 1984. She has written close to 20 screenplays, directed 12 feature films, including a feature documentary, written two novels, staged four plays, and has been working continually as both an actress in films and television, and a writer-director for the past 30 years. Her most recent feature, Une Manière De Vivre, will premiere this fall. She is currently working on her next feature, Sylvaine Ou L’esprit De La Forêt.
Wendy Crewson’s extensive body of work in film and television features more than 100 credits including Sarah Polley indie feature Away From Her; The Vow, with Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum; Winnie Mandela biopic Winnie; The Clearing, with Robert Redford; Eduardo Ponti’s Between Strangers, with Sophia Loren; The Last Brickmaker in America, with Sidney Poitier; Bi-Centennial Man with Robin Williams; The Sixth Day with Arnold Schwarzenegger; and her role as Harrison Ford’s First Lady in Air Force One. She also starred in five seasons of CTV hit medical drama Saving Hope for which she won Best Actress in a Featured Supporting Role at the 2013 Canadian Screen Awards. She also recurs on Frankie Drake Mysteries, Workin’ Moms, and AMC series The Son, opposite Pierce Brosnan. Crewson is currently shooting the first season of new Hallmark series, When Hope Calls and will be seen next in a recurring role on upcoming Netflix series The October Faction. She was the recipient of a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2015, in addition to being presented with the coveted ACTRA Earle Grey Award for Lifetime Achievement in Television.
Jean Yoon began her theatre career in the early 1980s in Toronto performing with Upstage Theatre, Toronto Free Theatre and Canasian Artists Group. In the 1990s, Yoon served as Cross Cultural Coordinator for Theatre Ontario, and then Co-Artistic Director of Cahoots Theatre Projects, founding Lift Off! and cementing Cahoots’ role as a leader in developing new works from playwrights of diverse cultures. She is best known for her work on the CBC television adaptation of Kim’s Convenience, for which she received the ACTRA Award for Outstanding Performance Female 2017, and two CSA nominations. Other screen credits include Orphan Black, Dragon Boys, The Expanse, Save Me and voicing the character of Connie in Emmy Award-winning PBS kids’ show Peg + Cat.
Marie Clements’ feature drama Red Snow, set for release this fall, earned 10 recent Leo Award nominations. Her 2017 feature music doc, The Road Forward, produced by the NFB, won five Leo Awards and has screened at over 300 venues in North America. In addition to other projects, Clements 15 stage plays have also garnered numerous awards. The Unnatural and Accidental Women will open the inaugural season of the National Arts Centre’s Indigenous Theatre in Ottawa this September, and her libretto Missing will be on a national tour with Pacific Opera Victoria this fall. Clements’ independent media production company MCM specializes in the development, creation and production of innovative works of media that explore an Indigenous and intercultural reality.
Jasmin Mozaffari is an award-winning Toronto-based writer/director who studied Film at Ryerson’s School of Image Arts. A number of her short films including Firecrackers (2013), Wave (2015), and sleep on the tracks (2017) screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, Vancouver International Film Festival and across Europe and the U.S. Her debut feature Firecrackers, based on the short, premiered at TIFF last year, won Best Film in Competition at the Stockholm International Film Festival, and went on to win two 2019 Canadian Screen Awards. Firecrackers was also named a New York Times Critic’s Pick in 2019.
Sophie Dupuis’ first feature film Chien de garde won the award for mise-en-scène at the Saint-Jean-de-Luz Festival, and received eight nominations at the Gala Québec Cinéma, going on to represent Canada in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 2018 Oscars. She is currently working on her second feature film Souterrain, focused on the world of mines.
This year’s honourees join the ranks of Birks Tribute alumni like Alanis Obomsawin, Sarah Polley, Tatiana Maslany, Karine Vanasse, Deepa Mehta, Catherine O’Hara, Sandra Oh, and Tantoo Cardinal, among others.
ACTRA, the Association des réalisateurs et réalisatrices du Québec (ARRQ), the Directors Guild of Canada (DGC), the Société des auteurs de radio, télévision et cinéma (SARTEC), Union des Artistes (UDA), and the Writers Guild of Canada (WGC) were invited to take part of the nomination process.
An 18-member jury made up of journalists, bloggers and on-air personalities, who cover art, culture and entertainment, was tasked with selecting this year’s honourees. They include Victoria Ahearn (The Canadian Press), Catherine Beauchamp (Le Tapis Rose), Erica Commanda (Muskrat Magazine), Richard Crouse (CTV’s Pop Life), Manon Dumais (Le Devoir), T’Cha Dunlevy (Montreal Gazette), Sholeh Fabbri (ET Canada), Willow Fiddler (APTN News), Noreen Flanagan (FASHION Magazine), Dana Gee (Global TV/Postmedia), Teri Hart (Citytv), Peter Knegt (CBC), Marc-André Lussier (La Presse), Jen McNeely (Shedoesthecity), Katherine Monk (Ex-Press/CBC), Kathleen Newman-Bremang (Refinery29), Jordan Pinto (Playback), and Radheyan Simonpillai (CTV’s Your Morning/NOW Magazine).
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